Previous in vitro experiments indicated that chloroplast small heat-shock proteins (sHsp) could associate with thylakoids and protect PSII during heat and other stresses, possibly by stabilizing the O2-evolving complex (OEC). However, in vivo evidence of sHsp protection of PSII is equivocal at present. Using previously characterized selection genotypes of Agrostis stolonifera Huds. that differ in thermotolerance and production of chloroplast sHsps, we show that both genotypes contain thylakoid-associating sHsps, but the heat-tolerant genotype, which produces an additional sHsp isoform not made by the sensitive genotype, produces a greater quantity of chloroplast and thylakoid sHsp. Following a pre-heat stress to induce sHsps, in vivo PSII function decreased less at high temperatures in the tolerant genotype. Differences in PSII thermotolerance in vivo were associated with increased thermotolerance of the OEC proteins and O2-evolving function of PSII, and not with other PSII proteins or functions examined. In vivo cross-linking experiments indicated that a greater amount of sHsp associated with PSII proteins during heat stress in the tolerant genotype. PSII was the most thermosensitive component of photosynthetic electron transport, and no differences between genotypes in the thermotolerance of other electron transport components were observed. These results indicate that in vivo chloroplast sHsps can protect O2 evolution and the OEC proteins of PSII during heat stress.